Weed Killers in Apartment Communal Areas

I have just, this minute, made my voice heard at the apartment complex where I live in respect of garden weedkillers being put down without a thought for cat companions.

I was sitting at my desk and noticed – and smelled – a chemical being sprayed on the lawn. I asked Michelle to go out and ask if it was “pet safe”. I asked her because I wanted to ensure there was peace in the community. When it comes to protecting my cat, I tend to be too direct and use plain language that some people find hard to digest. They see me as a crazy cat man.

Weed Killer and Cats

Weed Killer and Cats. Photo by navets

As nothing happened I went out myself and asked. The gardening contractor working for a hired company, who was spraying chemicals on the lawn in lines, said that it was not safe for cats and that it would kill a cat. I asked when would it be safe. He said in about one hour. But can I trust him? The sun is shining. Doesn’t the chemical have to be washed into the ground by rain to guarantee safety? I do not know.

Then the head gardener turned up, who happens to be one of the flat owners, and I made my feelings known. What are my feelings about this?

Well, committees or managing companies who are in charge of managing the maintenance of condos and blocks of flats or apartments should factor in companion animals when instructing contractors (businesses) to maintain gardens. The often don’t.

It is not good enough to say in relation to cat safety that, “nothing has happened for years”. Or, “I don’t know of any cat that has been hurt by weedkiller”. This is not good enough because often people won’t know if cats are being poisoned by weedkiller. No one is keeping records and frankly not many people care.

The cat is particularly vulnerable to garden chemicals because she licks the chemical off her paws and belly. Cats also eat grass they brush against plants. This adds significantly to the concentration and amount of chemical ingested.

A committee who run a complex of apartments should ensure that all chemicals used in the communal garden are cat and dog safe – and child safe too.

If they don’t do that they are open to being sued for compensation for the loss of a companion animal. In my case, if my cat was killed or hurt by weedkiller on communal gardens, I would never forgive myself and someone would pay a heavy price. It would be big negative in my life.

People living in apartments should make sure that people in charge of garden maintenance are thinking of cats when they put down obnoxious chemicals on the lawn to make it look better. I hate chemicals. People do this to make a lawn look attractive. What is more important: an attractive lawn or a poisoned and dying cat? Well, for most people, the lawn is more important.

There must be some “pet safe” weed killers. If there aren’t and if people insist on putting the stuff on lawns be very careful on behalf of your cat.

Earlier post on the subject: Lawn Treatments. And Toxic to Cats.

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Weed Killers in Apartment Communal Areas — 34 Comments

  1. Wow – that’s just crazy – I’d have been hopping mad. Just the other day the lady who insists on letting her 2 have kittens every year told me she put weed killer on the lawn and I freaked out saying that tiny kittens would be hurt or killed by it. Luckily she hadn’t let them outside yet due to the cold weather – and she said she only does it once in a while but I think next time she will remember.

    Ok now I am going to say it. I don’t care. I HATE lawns. They are proof that our society is ugly and boring. Bloody lawn lawn lawn – the amount of crap that goes into those incredibly boring things is intolerable as is the amount of machinery that gets passed over them to keep them all …lawny, they are so annoying. People even use leaf blowers now to make sure no leaves feed their lawn over the winter because they would rather just put steroids on the lawn in spring rather than let nature do it’s course – oh, because leaves don’t look nice on the lawn? Furthermore the amount of water required to keep them going is criminal. If you live near a golf course don’t let your cat onto it because you will not find an area with more chemicals. Lawns are just so incredibly irritating and I think people like them because they need things to be neat and tidy and empty and uniform, including the nature on their own land. I tell you, lawns are such a huge disaster for the environment and its just so ironic really especially since they are green and all. I remember Red would get all freaked out when they came and cut our grass every few weeks – so sad – all the little flowers gone, the dandelions and buttercups and no more long grass for the cats to stalk each other – or just lie in private and snooze.

    Lawns lawns lawns argh – I hate them with a passion. I can’t stand the damn things. If I ever have the opportunity to have one I will take that opportunity to grow the tallest wild flowers I can find even if every other house has it’s damn perfect lawn. For all the work and money and chemicals and petrol and electricity that goes into the damn things – just to end up looking like a green carpet, you would think more people would just use astro turf or …um, a green carpet.

    Sometimes I just want to go and stab people’s lawns with a blunt object and flip bits of turf around just to see the look of horror on their boring faces. Oh the pleasure. What is up with us if we take the only bit of nature we have in front of our houses and we make it into a green carpet. 3 cheers for the gardens that are a little wild and have lots of flowers and ivys and a little bit of grassy area.

    I am in danger of becoming a serial lawn vandaliser – i just hate them and what they represent and how they tint the reflection of our stupid blithering species. Humans and their lawns – argh.

    Ok – I’m done and I apologize to anyone who has a lawn or who knows someone with a lawn, oh wait, that would be everyone in the developed world and some of the rest. Ok I apologize to the world.

    I also think that the people laying dangerous chemicals on a lawn that is owned in part by people they might not know and who may have pets should be careful. There should even maybe some laws about this. If you want to turn the whole pet ‘ownership’thing around then Michael you are right, you can take them to court for damaging your ‘property’.

    Most of them don’t even think of it. Others don’t care. I believe there are pet safe products out there. Infact I just read about one in ModernCat magazine – they exist. Lets hope they become standard. Weed killers and pesticides are the most carcingenic things around. Apples are the most carcinogenic thing you can buy to eat unless they are organic, because they are sprayed with pesticides. Pesticides are killing the worlds bees and animals. Lawns are the pinnacle of absurdity at a huge price.

    • Yes, you might not be surprised to know that I agree with everything you write in your comment.

      People are obsessed with controlling nature. I think it stems from the need to have control and that stems from the human’s vulnerability. Humans are frightened and messed up. They are desperate to control their lives and create some order in the chaos and the bloody manicured lawn sprayed with crappy chemicals is an example of that weakness. Self harming is another bizarrely.

      A wild meadow with flowers would be so much better. There is real beauty in a natural environment. Cats would much prefer a wild meadow.

      They would have places to hid in and there would be more wildlife in it. Think how sterile a weed-free manicured lawn is.

      A lawn is one step from a concrete patio. It is a fuzzy, green, car park.

      • Exactly – I’m glad you see it how I do – I do pick on lawns pretty heavily though I will agree. It’s hard not to have a grassy area if you have land but there is a grassy area, a lawn then a lawn in the extreme manicured sense. I’m picking on the latter – I should be more specific so as not to involve everyone in my moan.

        I would be very angry at the gardener. I’m not sure how I would handle that situation but in the end if it’s going to cost them extra to use a safe weed product I would be happy to pay for it.

        Pesticides are causing enormous damage to the environment. I touched on one of my other pet peaves – golf – I won’t go there but the courses are highly dangerous for our health and the animals that live there. We are not supposed to kill all the insects. We need them. The whole bee debacle is a perfect example. It’s getting serious. All that grass so rich people can go for a walk on it and knock a ball around and call it sport – or just rest their eyes on their vision of nature.

        Do you know one of the most ironic things to me – and I don’t even remember the name of the file. One of the default windows XP desktop images is of a big green field with nothing on it, a farmers field – looks like Wiltshire or somewhere, totally barren – just some short green crop growing and it’s got some name like ‘heaven’ or ‘freedom’ or some such when all it is is a total dessicration of nature – the pesticide covered famer’s field with not a tree in sight so they have nothing to mow their machinery around. The irony of it being a desktop image with a heavenly name is just too much for me. Humans are desperate to escape their own nature and feelings – always trying to keep it neat and tidy in every sense. It’s killing us, it’s killing the world. Organic and wild growth is the last refuge of ‘freedom’ or ‘heaven’ left on this planet but our f**ktard species wants to get rid of it and even thinks its ok cuz they can re grow it or something.

        I’m digressing enormously – I hope you can stay on good terms with the guy because he is your neighbour and gardener and part owner right? I mean having just moved in it would suck to be on bad terms so hopefully there’s a way to sort it out nicely for all.

        • I know exactly what you are ranting, I mean talking about, Marc. I love your lawn rant and fantasies of lawn vandalism, by the way. My parents had city people move in across the ravine from them and the first thing they did was cut down almost all the trees and plant grass down into the ravine. If it was on his property it all had to look like a manicured yard. It is like people are afraid of the disorder in nature. They have to control it all. Every blade of grass.

          • They do have to try and control nature and that leads to the death of wild animals. It is a human weakness and a failure which may lead to the destruction of the planet unless humankin grows up.

          • Ruth thank you for the perfect example – this is exactly what I am talking about. There is a portion of the population that feels it needs to tear away all the nature and make it just another bit of culture in a sense. I would be very sad to see trees on my street being cut down and the land cleared. I have always been very sad when a tree I know that is or has for a long time been in my environment – gets cut down in half an hour after taking so many years to grow there. I disagree very much with this kind of thinking and aesthetic and it is just sad and mean and ugly. I’m sorry your parents had to witness that. I really understand native peoples when they say the white man is ‘hurting them’ when he goes and destroys the land so carelessly and cruelly. It is just the same as abuse only to plants and animals that live there. I hope people starting changing soon and we hear less and less of this kind of example.

            Ruth your example is really perfectly depicting what my initial ,oan is about – exactly that. The destructive nature of preferred human aesthetics – so cruel and mean and selfish to tear up a place that has been like that for years. Who do they think they are just coming in and re-landscaping the whole place. In my world there would be legal limits to this kind of behaviour but that would make my world kind of fascist I guess.

    • Marc, I have to admit I was in stitches reading your rant on lawns and in so many ways you are dead right, but on the other hand there are peeps like Ruth and me who do have lawns but they’re rough grass kept short with things like clover, daisies and the odd dandelion in the mix, we like grass for the boys to lie in, to nibble at and to play on, like you we hate chemicals and have never in all our adult years used, or allowed chemicals to be used, on our gardens.The gardens just look a lot tidier grassy than bare earth. 🙂

      • Barbara I thought of your beautiful garden and I actually guessed that you probably didn’t use harsh chemicals because not only would you be protecting your cats but I know you and Ruth are very concious about the environment and animals and – well, I just guessed it. It’s nice to lie on the grass. When I was in Canada there were some insanely perfect lawns though, not like yours with daisies dotted around, but like perfect square edged green carpets. It’s the same people who chop down everything to get more light. Argh. I love trees. I’d love if a tree would grow a big leafy branch right into my window so I felt like I was in it. But that’s me.

        Grass grows naturally and most gardens have it – I just had a rant without being specific. There are many people who don’t bother doing too much like wasting huge amounts of water and weed killer on their grassy bits and I don’t mean them – I mean the Nazi Lawn Culture!

        • Oh yeah, perfect lawns and not a stray blade of grass nor a leaf allowed to fall on the smooth green surface, there’s no pleasure in that sort of lawn surely, far too much hard work.

        • When I go stabbing lawns in the night and throwing turf around I will make sure to take yours off the list.

          By the way do we think Charlie would have smelled it and backed off or been in it too soon to notice and have it on his fur?

  2. This is awful! What if you hadn’t seen/smelled the damned stuff being sprayed and had innocently taken Charlie out onto the grass, he could have been ill or much worse and you wouldn’t have had a clue as to why. I hate weed kller or any other garden chemicals and hate it when the council come out around here spraying the edges of the pavements with weed killer, maybe that’s one good thing to come out of all the spending cuts, maybe they won’t be able to afford to do that anymore. We always ask about it and they say “oh it’s safe once it’s dry” but how do we know for sure and what about other people’s cats that are out for s a stroll or for that matter what about birds, hedgehogs and even worms. I don’t blame you one bit for being f****** livid,and what’s more I bet Michael in protect-Charlie mode is a fearsome being!Good for you!

    • You mention the hedgehogs and worms quite rightly Barbara – actually I feel really sorry for them. We need them – it’s an ecosystem and we should just care about them anyway. If we hurt nature we hurt ourselves ultimately. I happen to like hedgehogs alot from when I was very little – we had them – a familly in our garden and I liked them alot. I also don’t have anything against worms or insects. Most of all I like weeds. I actually find many of the native plants in a region that grow the strongest are quite beautiful. In my garden in Canada I made good use of what was already growing there – even mint and lavender – I ‘organised’ the weeds ever so slightly and let them grow tall and had my little path and clearing. The weeds are the plants that grow in a region and I believe they are the most important. Nature put them there specifically because in some way they form an important part of the balance.

      In the end it’s simple – nature is beautiful and I try to work with it, not against it, and that’s not a tactic, it’s just because I like it the way it is.

      • We have garlic mustard here and some other transplants from Europe that are now invasive plants, crowding out the natural wild flowers. But the only way to get rid of garlic mustard is to pull it out by the root. Anything put down to kill it will kill desirable, natural plants too. I really think as far as lawns are concerned, you can get rid of the weeds the old fashioned way– by pulling them out by hand. It’s really the best and safest way and it gets us some exercise too. My plan here is to get rid of the invasive plants and buy some wildflower seeds at the Audubon Center and scatter them. They have seeds that are only made up of plants native to the area. Many of the wildflowers are considered weeds, but to me that is stupid. A plant is a plant, unless it’s something that should never have been here but for man screwing up the ecosystem transplanting it. What people call weeds are often the hardiest plants (I think even I can manage to grow wildflowers) and they are not useless. Many “weeds” are edible plants. Why we have decided they aren’t as desirable is beyond me.

        • Yes, I like what you say as usual. The word “weeds” has taken on a meaning that goes well beyond what weeds are. I believe we should embrace nature so much more and be natural in it. Human is screwing up over and over.

    • Fearsome 😉 Yes, let’s say they got the message and I am damned for eternity as a mad cat man. Great. I am already known as a mad fox man who feeds foxes…..help. If you love nature you don’t fit in.

      I believe and hope that the committee who manage the apartments, from now on, bring into their decision making the welfare of the beautiful companion cat who lives here and wanders through the place, rather than ignoring him/her.

      There is also lots of other wildlife here. They need to think of these creatures too.

    • What if you hadn’t seen/smelled the damned stuff….

      Agreed. This is it. Charlie was one step away from being poisoned as far as I am concerned. The patio door was open because it was a warm day. He could have wandered outside if I wasn’t keeping an eye on things (as usual ;)).

      • The only plus here is that you have good weather. We don’t 🙂

        Yes, being protective of nature or just into it can mean you don’t fit in. I had neighbours in Canada who didn’t like that I didn’t keep a tidy lawn. That’s where my serial lawn vandalism fantasies began.

        • We are so alike, Marc, it’s scary sometimes! I hate lawns too.

          Too bad we live on different continents. It would be nice to have you over some evening, Jeff could cook up some brats (unless you are a vegetarian) and we could have a couple of beers (Jeff likes “Spotted Cow” which is made in New Glarus) and watch Monty play in the back yard. It feels like I know everybody from PoC, like we are neighbors. It’s just a shame we aren’t able to get together.

  3. A “weed” is an undesirable plant. Undesirable when on lawns. It’s a wild plant. So we use chemicals to kill it and mess up the environment in the process. There really is something bonkers about humankind.

  4. Update:

    This is what the company doing the herbicide spraying say:

    “Please relay back to your clients that there is nothing to worry about. As a precaution we advise all our customers to keep children and pets off the lawn once they have been sprayed, for a couple of hours.

    We apply a herbicide that dries extremely quickly on the leaf especially in warm conditions (10 minutes). The solution we use is diluted to a high degree and one of the main reasons we ask to keep off the lawn is to stop it being walk off the leaf.

    GreenThumb treat nearly half a million customers and though we ask customers to keep their pets off the lawn we obviously cannot stop neighbours pets from walking across. And in over 25 years have never had a problem.

    I hope this reassures your clients, my operative was just being over cautious on explaining about keeping his cat off the lawns.”

    My response is that this is unsatisfactory. The substance is clearly poisonous and no one gave us forewarning.

    Also wandering cats are at risk. And cats eat grass so even if the chemical has dried it can still be ingested. The operative said the chemical killed cats. How do they know they have never had a problem? Who reports cat health problems to a gardening contractor? The damage to health may be delayed so you cannot connect poor health with the herbicide.

    • I think the damage is much more long term if ingested in small amounts. On an occasional basis I believe it would lead directly to cancer if not something more immediate and pressing.

      • I feel that gardeners and the majority of people don’t think about other animals when they chuck chemicals on lawns. They do it for themselves and themselves alone in a blind, programmed way. I wonder how insects and bees etc. cope with these foul chemicals. How much damage is done to invertebrates by herbicides? I don’t think enough people care.

        Thanks for your titanic contribution in comments on this page.

        • Michael yes, bees is a good example – there is a serious worry about bees these days. I haven’t googled it but read about it in our paper. Apparently all the pesticides are killing many many bees and the lack of bees has serious consequences on flower pollination which in turn – at length – has terrible consequences on the entire ecosystem. Through the lack of bees it has become apparent how important they are to our ecology. It’s of course only coming to light because essentially it’s too late – because clearly they weren’t thinking ahead on this one but some real problems have arisen and typically that’s what it takes to get a few people to notice and take it seriously. Bees are terribly important and they are being decimated apparently – by such chemicals, including private, home garden chemicals as well as industrial ones on farms. It’s serious.

          My provocative titanic contribution – lol – no but seriously I should be more specific – I’m glad Ruth gave us the example of her parents neighbours lawnifying their land accross the street. Those are the lawns I’d like to vandalise 😉

    • LOL. I said, if my cat was killed by weedkiller I would hit the person responsible and not care about the consequences. And I would sue them – from prison 😉

  5. It’s very worrying that people use chemicals so lightly saying it ‘shouldn’t’ hurt animals, of course it hurts them, not only cats but wild life too.
    They actually test chemicals on animals, some European law or other says they have to, so how many lab animals die in agony from poisoning?Surely there must be better ways to kill weeds off, it’s easy to do in small areas, you just pour boiling water on them, why can’t they invent something to do that on a large scale?
    But no too many people in this world don’t care about animals or the environment, everything has to be made easy no matter what the cost to living creatures and their habitat.
    As Babz already said, our lawns are grassy with daisies and buttercups and clover, our cats love to lie in the long grass, our garden is cat friendly.
    Marc what would PoC be without you? Your passion and your humour always cheer me up, I wish all young people were like you because then this world would be a far better place.

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